Lucinda O’Sul­li­van re­veals her Top 20 Sassy Seafood Spots

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Contents - lu­cin­dao­sul­li­

We never re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated fish un­til re­cent times. Now, we can’t get enough, and love the fact that the gap is be­ing filled be­tween the ba­sic, old-style fish-and-chip shops and ex­pen­sive seafood restau­rants. There are some re­ally great ca­sual fish eater­ies out there, in­clud­ing mar­ket stalls, pier-side food trucks, shacks and cafes, of­fer­ing every­thing from Maine-style lob­ster rolls to scampi, suc­cu­lent crab claws to hip Hawai­ian poke bowls, at prices that won’t nec­es­sar­ily break the bank, says Lucinda O’Sul­li­van, who lists her top 20 sassy seafood spots around the coun­try


Within a stone’s throw of the River Boyne, and new to Drogheda, Sarah-Jane Kir­wan’s pretty seafood bar, with red-brick walls and mar­ble-topped ta­bles, serves fresh fish from the fam­ily fish shop next door. Think seafood chow­der, prawn pil pil, fish pie, and daily black­board spe­cials. Din­ner Fri­day/Satur­day night. There’s also a take­away menu.


‘Grab and go’ is the thing here, be­fore climb­ing Howth Head or walk­ing the pier in the north Dublin vil­lage. There’s al­ways a fast-mov­ing queue of tourists and lo­cals ea­ger to chow down on their chow­der, fish and chips — or, my favourite, cala­mari or scampi and chips with tartare sauce and lemon. beshoff­


Fishbone faces the wooden bridge lead­ing to Bull Is­land and Dol­ly­mount Strand on Clon­tarf ’s main drag. I had a bit of a glitch with ser­vice on my visit, but the yel­low-fronted Fishbone did come up with good fish on the day. Loud mu­sic, cock­tails, Howth lob­ster, Lam­bay crab.


Niall Sabongi’s Klaw in Tem­ple Bar is hot-hot in the fishy stakes, as is his new Klaw Poke on Capel Street, also in Dublin. It com­bines the great shell­fish of­fer­ings of Klaw with Ire­land’s first Hawai­ian-style tra­di­tional healthy poke bowls filled with mar­i­nated tuna (or other seafood), grains, salad, top­pings and sauces. Del­ish.


Hav­ing started from a shed in Black­rock Mar­ket, Peter Ho­gan and Jumoke Ak­in­tola now have a fish-and-chip shop on Dublin’s Ben­burb Street, as well as this ca­su­ally hip seafood restau­rant on Queen Street, serv­ing any­thing but ca­sual seafood. A four-course din­ner will tit­il­late, while their tast­ing menu will knock your socks off.


Veronika and Zsolt Zakar’s tiny seafood and steak eatery is giv­ing the other 900 cov­ers in Dublin’s coastal Monkstown vil­lage a run for their money, with great lob­ster burg­ers, lob­ster rolls, lob­ster pots, lob­ster ravi­oli. Did I men­tion lob­ster? Lovely Hun­gar­ian wine.


Chef Gareth ‘Gaz’ Smith is the cap­tain of the ship at Michael’s, Mount Mer­rion, in Dublin. With a fan­tas­tic pedi­gree, from Wex­ford to Lon­don to Vi­enna and back, Gaz spe­cialises in get­ting ev­ery bit of flavour from the fresh seafood he sources from small, in­de­pen­dent fish­er­men.


On Dock Ter­race, Bray, Co Wickow, Fish Bar at the leg­endary Har­bour Bar, serves ca­sual seafood with eclec­tic twists that Molly Malone never knew. Choices in­clude oys­ters Bloody Mary; prawn tacos; sweet potato crab cakes; crab rolls; and smoked salmon and chorizo na­chos. fish­


Open since 2014, Paul and Ed­wina Hynes’s chic, con­tem­po­rary seafood restau­rant lo­cated on Wex­ford’s quay­side evokes a real feel of din­ing on the Cote d’Azur. Think brill and ca­per bran­dade; plaice with Pernod froth; and seafood plat­ters. la­


Fer­gal Dempsey’s restau­rant and wine bar, which is lo­cated on the Strand Road in Ross­lare, serves al­most any­thing that swims, from black sole to seared sword­fish, Ross­lare crab claws to cala­mari and oc­to­pus, Wex­ford mus­sels, white­bait, ra­zor clams and lob­ster. wildand­na­

PIER 26 It doesn’t get any fresher than Pier 26 in east Cork’s Bal­ly­cot­ton, right at the source of some of the best-loved seafood in the coun­try. Set vir­tu­ally on the pier, it has fab­u­lous views of the bay and the har­bour. The food is great, and the prices are right. face­­au­rant/ THE FISHMARKET CAFE Set in the his­toric Kin­sale Fish Mar­ket, Co Cork. Dine in­side or out in new The Fishmarket Cafe at the Blue Haven Ho­tel on Pearse Street. Try panko-crumbed scampi, oys­ters pre­pared any which way, or chow­der and crab crum­bles. You can wash them down with pre­mium ar­ti­san Marl­bor­ough Sau­vi­gnon Blanc, sourced from New Zealand’s Fair­bourne Es­tate. blue­haven­col­lec­ THE BULMAN Pearse and Mary O’Sul­li­van’s at­mo­spheric Kin­sale pub, by the wa­ter’s edge, is a lo­cal and hol­i­day hotspot, and for good rea­son. They do a great tapas-style bar menu, with lots of fab­u­lous fishy bits, but the real star of the show is their grilled lo­cal-lob­ster half. Bliss, and sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able. the­bul­ O’CON­NORS SEAFOOD RESTAU­RANT On Wolfe Tone Square, fac­ing Bantry Har­bour, in Co Cork, O’Con­nors is al­ways pop­u­lar for ex­cel­lent lo­cal seafood. A new, more ca­sual el­e­ment has been added to the front, so it’s a per­fect spot for fam­ily sum­mer lunches. Try the Bantry Bay hand-dived scal­lops. ocon­


Part of the Star Out­doors Out­door Ad­ven­ture Cen­tre on the Ring of Beara Road, in Kerry, here you can en­joy great seafood, in­clud­ing scampi and Ken­mare mus­sels, on their wa­ter­front bal­cony, while soak­ing up views of Ken­mare Bay, Din­ish Is­land and the MacGil­ly­cuddy’s Reeks. Owned by Star Seafoods, there is an on-site smok­ery. starout­


Over­look­ing the ocean in the pic­turesque vil­lage of Strand­hill, Co Sligo, Tra Ban boasts some of the best views on the Emer­ald Isle. Sit­u­ated on the first floor, above the Strand Pub, this steak and seafood restau­rant is a sib­ling of the pop­u­lar Eala Bhan in Sligo town. tra­


Part of the Quin­lan & Cooke Bou­tique Town­house, in Ca­her­siveen, Co Kerry, QC’s is a long-es­tab­lished fishy fave among those in the know. Own­ers An­drew and Kate Cooke reel in cus­tomers with their fab­u­lous flavour­some fish, sup­plied by the fam­ily’s com­pany, Quin­lan’s Kerry Fish. In sum­mer­time, grab a ta­ble in their court­yard gar­den and dine al fresco.


In the at­trac­tive coastal town of Bally­bunion, Co Kerry, a favoured stop along the Wild At­lantic Way, the Ma­rine Restau­rant, part of the Ma­rine Ho­tel, has be­come a pop­u­lar spot for lo­cals and tourists alike. Owner and head chef Derek Na­gle strives to make sure all his menus are full of lo­cally sourced fish and meats. the­ma­


This au­then­tic cot­tage in Bal­lylif­fin, Co Done­gal, boasts chef Kieran Duey, who scooped the pres­ti­gious award of World Chow­der Cham­pion on his re­cent ex­cur­sion to New­port, Rhode Is­land. Af­ter savour­ing a bowl of his award­win­ning fish soup, treat your­self to their home-baked breads and desserts. face­­cys­barn/


This Done­gal pub and restau­rant, known lo­cally as Kelly’s, in the small vil­lage of Bur­ton­port, does a lot more than it says on the tin. Their sig­na­ture lob­ster comes from their live tank, while there’s also an ocean of cod, scampi, oys­ters and prime Ir­ish beef — but why not go big time, and choose their house spe­cialty: The Ti­tanic, a seafood plat­ter, loaded with lob­ster, crab, mus­sels, salmon, prawns and more. lob­ster­

REEL­ING THEM IN: Clock­wise from left, QC’s in Kerry; Fishbone in Clon­tarf, D3; Fish Shop, on Queen St, D7 — there’s also a branch on Ben­burb St, D7; Nancy’s Barn in Bal­lylif­fin, Co Done­gal; La Cote in Wex­ford; Tra Ban in Co Sligo;

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